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A New Generative Textile Collaboration
Vicky Clarke, Sally Gilford, Cheryl O’Meara

Really excited to be working on this new collaborative project with Sally and Cheryl and pushing myself into the area of generative visuals and coding through Processing. Below is an intro to our collective and method and our first commission for Manchester International Festival, a response to Jeremy Deller’s What is the City but the People.

Introducing  >Thread {}

About: > Thread { } is a coding term referencing the digital part of our work, it also represents the physical material and cultural textile heritage of Manchester and The Archive. Thread is a metaphor for the weaving of digital, analogue and historical processes and critiques the disposability of consumerist mass manufacturing through interdisciplinary personalised artworks and products.

Our Process: Digital imagery generated from human bio data – code infused with numerical personal narratives using Processing – imagery translated into hand screen printed designs – screen prints translated into digital print illustrations – personalised textiles digitally printed and made into artwork/installations/products/

Who we are: >Thread {} brings together the experience and creativity of; Cheryl O’Meara who has an archive of over 50,000 antique textile and wallpaper swatches housed at Islington Mill, Salford. Highly successful as a commercial print designer her ambition is to push the paradigms and boundaries of what fashion and print are and reinvent a new future for fashion, print and self-expression. Sally Gilford is an established artist, print maker and creative practitioner who works with leading establishments such as the Whitworth, Yorkshire Sculpture Park and Arts Council Collection. She is currently working on ground breaking projects with Wellcome Trust Centre for Cell Matrix Research at the University of Manchester, using bio images to create innovative print and surface pattern design. Finally, Vicky Clarke is a digital and sound artist whose practice explores sound and sculpture, space and perception and manifests in installations, public performances and DIY instrument building. She uses sound as a material to explore chaos, chance and interaction. Working with electronic, digital and analogue textures; she has been artist in residence at National Media Museum, STEIM (Amsterdam) Q-02 (Brussels) and most recently performed at Berlin’s CTM Festival exploring human/machine interaction.


Manchester International Festival residency

response to ‘What is the City but the People?’

Our recent MIF residency responded to the Jeremy Deller opening piece, ‘What is the City but the People’ allowing us to extract bio data from participants via a pulsometer, this real time data was weaved together with our original code to generate digital patterns and motifs. The numerical values we used within the code were naturally occurring numbers taken from the participants lives.

Examples of this were, lottery win numbers, how many children they had, the number of the factory production line one participant had worked on for 30 years. These unique patterns were then screen printed by hand to give the motifs a human ‘analogue’ element. Lastly they were printed onto fabric and made into a ‘bio print kimono’. Here are some of the original projected images from the rehearsal days with the participants. We intend to develop and explore this method of working with people to create unique artworks, installations and potentially small run product designs.


Delia Derbyshire Archive: Waves Around Edges. Manchester After Hours performance

btsWaves Around Edges is a live response to the Delia Derbyshire archive housed at John Rylands Library. The piece was commissioned by Manchester After Hours as part of the live event ‘Breaking the Sound Barrier’. To develop the piece, I began research within the archive, I was interested in Delia’s ‘juvenile papers’ looking over the physics and geometry books featuring her first explorations into sound. It’s fantastic being able to see drawings of Delia’s sine waves and mathematical equations which had such a profound influence on her process for sound creation. Also in the archive are BBC Radiophonic letters and correspondence and to me most fascinating are the working notes of iconic pieces such as the ‘Inventions for Radio’ . The archive houses an extensive list of tapes which have been digitised. For the piece I wanted to reflect on Delia’s working methods, her technical processes and think about some of the sounds and objects she would have encountered in the Radiophonic workshop that informed her work. For this I want to explore the medium of tape itself, thinking about this as a material and dynamic sound source.

eveI visited Eve Studios in Stockport which has a wealth of ex-BBC Radiophonic workshop equipment and tape machines. Martin and Tom kindly let me contact mic record these working objects. I loved hearing the inner workings of the machines, the clicks and clunks of the buttons, the whirrs and spinning of the tape as it finishes the spool, all had a unique character.

tape deckThese samples formed a both a sequenced section of the performance and inspired the Tape Machine Sculpture I created for the show. The sculpture was a sonified object made of found materials, with heavy steel sections salvaged from a Salford building site. I selected the top piece due its look of a sine wave, the bow i used to play the sculpture had magnetic tape running along the length and I embedded a cassette head within the object for some rewind/fast forward action.

Vicky Clarke at John Rylands Library for Manchester After Hours by Ben Williams

ps1Other composed sounds within the set looked at sound as material including electromagnetic recordings , I wanted to get a sense of electricity, disorientating FM synthesis and also authoritarian educational BBC voices discussing the nature of sound, electricity and magnetic tape to reflect the male dominated world in which Delia worked at that time.

Here is a very short edit (live piece is 20 mins).

Thankyou Delia x


CTM Festival: Music Makers Hacklab @ Native Instruments

MMHL13As part of CTM: Festival for Adventurous Music and Art. Music Makers Hacklab brought together 20 international sound artists, inventors, technologists, artists and musicians for one week to create new musical performances, instruments and concepts to be performed live at the end of the festival; ‘Emotional Invention’ at Hau2, Kreuzberg. The programme was led by Peter Kirn of Create Digital Music and hosted by Native Instruments. Continue reading “CTM Festival: Music Makers Hacklab @ Native Instruments”


Transit Zone Pavillion UDK

ht3For Transit Zone Pavillion, a week long project at UdK sound studies department; we created public art interventions that utilised sound to disrupt the general public at Kreuzberg Hallesches Tor train and U-bahn station. I was one of 10 international artists who had pieces around the station. I wanted to subvert the surveillance camera, taking out the video camera and using a speaker to amplify white noise originally. I wanted to use white noise as a metaphor for the seemingly random and chaotic patterns of movement these transport hubs exhibit. Time constraints led me to use theremin sounds for this interactive object with passing members of the public noticing and playing the surveillance camera; a completely opposite use to its intended function.


Might and Main Residency. The Penthouse


mmMight and Main is a project exploring the mechanisms and celebrating the outputs of the artist-led – researching the importance of place and space to artistic production from Manchester city centre artist led studio and project space The Penthouse. The Might and Main project aims to pose questions such as what does our city mean to the production of art and to artist led initiatives and in return what do we mean to our city? What does the current climate of Manchester regeneration and changes in cultural landscape mean – what space is there available for artists.  The format was a 2 week residency, open studio and symposium.

Statement on Works: For Might and Main, i explored the architecture and the socio-spatial situation of artist-led The Penthouse as a microcosm to explore the wider trends in urban regeneration and the place of the artist in the city. I used sound and sculpture as both medium and material to respond to the physical building structures and the relations between cities, urbanism and space. The three sound sculptures were inspired by the shape and form of the modernist buildings of Richard Seifert; architect of The Penthouse, brutalist materials of construction and reference Manchester’s industrial past through sound and archive. The sculptures include found items such as the red handles in ‘Key Cutter’ which were found whilst on a sound walk on Store Street, Ancoats. Coming across a barricaded industrial are, with shining placards advertising a new 5* luxury development; these handles were part of the contents of a skip containing the remains of a family key cutting business. The security guard revealed that this was the last business to hold out before the developers moved in.





The sounds encompass contact mic recordings of the air vents and doors on the roof top of The Penthouse, pulses generated by digital IC Chips, field recordings of a New Islington construction site in Ancoats visible from The Penthouse windows; and a composed industrial soundscape including fragments of spinning jennys, mill hooters and arkwright carding machines from the Greater Manchester Sound Archive.


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Trilogies LIVE: Call and Response CFCCA


13398890_986968128077979_1507105980_n(1)As part of the Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art’s (CFCCA) ongoing Call and Response series of sound art events, CFCCA and HOME staged a one-off single-screen version of susan pui san lok’s multi-channel Trilogies installation, called Trilogies LIVETrilogies draws on fan uploads of various TV adaptations of martial arts epic novel series, The Condor Trilogy.  I was commissioned to devise a live sound performance to accompany a 15 minute montage from ‘The Legend of the Condor’. The piece was performed at HOME and included live contact mic and sword/bow set up, martial art samples/loops and reworkings and compositions from the archive kung fu material.

Call & Response Film CFCCA


Greater Manchester Sound Archive commission

75710_Archives+ Logo_CMYK editedThe Greater Manchester Sound Archive is the new collection of sounds at Archives+ , Central Library in Manchester. It is a rich sonic treasure trove charting the socio-political history of the city with oral histories, music and nature recordings to name but a few. I was asked to create a soundscape and work with the LGBT archive for the LGBT Voices live event at Manchester Central Library. The aim was to raise awareness of the archives by undertaking some outreach workshops, I ran a soundart project with young people at the Proud Trust where we used contact mics to unearth and record the hidden sounds of the youth centre. We also put out an open call for spoken word artists to respond to the LGBT oral history archives, these responses were performed live at the event. We also had a submission from Reform Radio who had created a podcast with their young trainees.

Over the past couple of months I have had the priviledge to listen to over 60 of the oral history archives. As well as learning so much about the history of gay rights in the city and lots of different LGBT narratives and topics including Polari, Section 28, how Manchester City Council was the first to invest in a gay centre for it citizens and political perspectives on spaces for subcultures to exist.

I was interested in the ‘sounds of recording’, the pops, clicks and false starts that happen when conducting oral history interviews. These small incidental moments were of interest sonically as I constructed loops and rhythmic patterns out of these. As well as referencing the oral history archives I wanted to showcase some of the wider sounds in the archives that I was particularly drawn to.

stThe Jodrell Bank space tapes were really exciting, I was able to digitise these from tape cassette so I could work with the material. These included sounds from the sputnik satellite, moon echoes and an interesting lecture called ‘The centre of immensities’. Other textures I worked with were the industrial mill sounds, orchestrating the sounds of an Arkwright machine, spinning jenny, mill hooter on a drum pad, creating beats from the machinery of Manchester’s past. The Paul Graney archive was also fascinating and I sampled some of his world music recordings from his catalogue of radio show archives.

I look forward to using more archive sounds as a source of musical inspiration, the act of sampling, manipulating and creating something new out of the historical material and combining this with new field recordings was truely special. It;s got me thinking of a new musique concrete performance I might like to try with old formats at the library.

Thanks to Dave Govier at Archives+ for all his support, knowledge and enthusiasm whilst working on the project.